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BTS Fans Slam Article for Misrepresenting K-Pop

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  • BTS was on the cover of the Hollywood Reporter, and fans were not happy with the article that accompanied it. 
  • Many accused the story of being xenophobic by playing into negative stereotypes about K-pop.
  • They also believe that the story misquoted BTS member RM and were upset that the story mentioned the death of a member of another K-pop band.
  • Some believe this speaks to gaps in the ways Western media covers K-pop.

Fans React to The Hollywood Reporter’s Article

BTS fans are criticizing The Hollywood Reporter after they were upset with the magazine’s representation of K-pop in Wednesday’s highly anticipated cover story. 

Both The Hollywood Reporter and BTS were excitedly teasing the release of the story, which was written by Senior Writer Seth Abramovitch. Once it went live, however, fans were not happy with what they read. 

Twitter users accused the article of painting a xenophobic picture of K-pop by describing it as a cut-throat genre that dehumanizes its artists. Abramovitch compared K-pop to the Hunger Games and said that the artists are kept on “leashes.” Some readers then thought this played into the Western stereotype that K-pop artists are worked to such an excessive degree that they’re being viewed more like robots than people. 

While writing a laundry list of complaints about the story, one user said they were tired of the “narrative of the K-Pop machine, as if the Western world does not also carefully curate talent in an industry peppered with the same issues.”

Another said that the stereotypes don’t just exist about K-pop but Asian culture in general. 

Fans then thought this narrative crossed a line when it brought up the death of artist Jonghyun, a member of the band SHINee. His tragic passing is a sensitive topic among K-pop fans. 

“Only the best of the best wind up in an actual K-pop band — while some don’t survive at all,” the article reads. “In 2017, the industry drew intense scrutiny after a member of SHINee, another popular K-pop band, took his own life, writing in his suicide note that he felt ‘broken on the inside.’”

Many were frustrated his death was used as an example to fuel the narrative that the K-pop industry is toxic. Some noted that his death was connected mainly to his depression, not just his work.

Others called it xenophobic to paint K-pop in an incriminating light, something they claim writers often do intentionally.

Fans Accuse THR of Misquoting

Their criticism of the story did not stop there. Many fans also believe that BTS member Kim Nam-joon, also known as RM, was falsely quoted or that his quotes may have been misinterpreted or taken out of context.

“We have to consider ourselves not just better [than other K-pop acts], but the best,” RM is quoted saying in the story. “When we’re out there on that stage, we’re there to conquer. We think we’re the ones.”

Many fans believe RM would not say something so confident or cocky in a major interview because in past interviews, he has been humble about BTS’ success. In one clip he said, “We are not the kings of pop.”

While there is no audio recording or tangible proof that he was misquoted, fans think that presenting this quote plays into yet another stereotype about K-pop as a genre. They believe it makes the artists look arrogant and smug. Some thought the band had grounds to sue for defamation. 

Journalists Respond

Fans were not alone in their critiques of the piece. Some journalists also took to Twitter to express their frustrations with the article. 

“Imagine wrangling dream access — dinner! soju! — with the biggest band in the world to write………..that,” said Senior Writer at Vulture, E. Alex Chung. 

He also joked about the trend of reporters who don’t speak Korean being sent to cover Korean bands like BTS.

Jae-Ha Kim, who has written for the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and various other outlets said it was clear the writer did not know enough about K-pop, BTS, or Korean culture and that this often shows when Western reporters cover K-pop stars. She specifically referred to a line in the article that says “maknae” is a K-pop term used to refer to the baby of the band and adds that this is not fully true. 

“It is an actual Korean word that predates K-pop,” she said. 

“There’s something to be said for getting a fresh perspective, but offer Korean artists the same respect you would a Western artist,” she added. “Would you fly a reporter who doesn’t know anything about Adele to England to interview her?”

Abramovich has not responded to the backlash, though, not all BTS fans were upset with his story. 

“What was inaccurate? What was offensive? What is the problem?” one fan asked.

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Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists

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Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”


The American Music Fairness Act

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders. 

The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders. 

On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments. 

In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”

“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”

“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”

The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year. 

The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.

Support From Major Music Groups

The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians. 

If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”

Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists. 

“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”

Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Billboard)

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Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”

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After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums. 


Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs

Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.

On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”

While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers. 

Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case. 

“Not For Sale”

“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”

Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful. 

According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.

The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”

“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued. 

West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (Forbes) (Complex)

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“Squid Game” Director Defends Reality Spinoff of Hit Series Amid Backlash

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“When you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry,” the Emmy-winner said. 


“Squid Game” To Get Reality Treatment

Emmy Award-winning “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk addressed the mounting backlash a reality spinoff of the popular series is facing while speaking to reporters at the Emmy Awards on Monday night. 

“Squid Game” quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series following its release last fall. In a searing examination of capitalism and class division, the South Korean drama follows people who choose to compete in schoolyard-style games with life or death stakes in hopes of winning enough money to pay their debts off. 

Over the summer, Netflix announced plans to make a reality series based on the games featured in the show called “Squid Game: The Challenge.” Just like in “Squid Game,” 456 contestants will compete for a prize of $4.56 million. Though in this case, losers will not be executed. Netflix is billing the program as “the biggest reality competition ever.”

The announcement of the show was met with swift backlash from those who felt a reality adaptation of these games missed the point of the original series. Some even argued it felt dystopian to have real people participate in a cash-grab game based on media meant to highlight the tragedies surrounding poverty and desperation. 

Hwang Responds to Criticism

While speaking in the Emmy’s press room following a successful night for the breakout series, Hwang said he understood where some of the criticisms were coming from but defended the reality series. 

“I think that even though our show does carry quite a heavy message — and I know that there are some concerns of taking that message and creating it into a reality show with a cash prize,” he said via Variety. “However, I feel like when you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry. It doesn’t really set a great precedent.”

“I would say that reproductions of such efforts are going to bring new meaning to the industry, and I hope that this is going to be a great new direction for the industry overall,” the director continued.

“Squid Game” won six Emmy awards including Hwang’s trophy for Outstanding Directing For a Drama Series and Lee Jung-jae’s victory for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. 

No release date for “Squid Game: The Challenge” has been released yet, but it is set to film in the United Kingdom.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (IndieWire) (Entertainment Weekly)

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